Part 12: Session 10: Wait, There Was a Main Plot?
Session 10: Wait, There Was a Main Plot?
“Can we go to the whorehouse again?”
“Can we not? It was annoying enough when you guys did that the first time.”
“Better yet, maybe we can find the plot. You said this has an overarching plot, right? All we’ve done so far is kill a necromantic Druid and clear out a mine for no one in particular.”
Well, I’ve got an idea for that. Why don’t we say that everyone already had their downtime, with or without some amount of boozing and whoring, and start up the session when everyone comes back together to find something to do? I wanted you guys to be well equipped before starting the main plotline, which is why I waited until now.
“So how do we find it?”
It’s pretty obvious, actually. I’ll let you guys figure it out on your own.
“Maybe we can get a job with the government. Is there an important-looking building around somewhere?”
Yes, actually, just across from the marketplace.
I say we visit the tavern and wait for a mysterious stranger to tell us where to go next.
That’s stupid and cliché. Governments are what really assign quests. I don’t suppose there’s a king in town?
Too bad. Anyway, we’ll go in.
The building is fairly intricate in construction. The corridor leads to a small door without a sign.
“Bosper Jarnug, at your service!”
“Greetings, Mr. Jarnug. We are six adventurers—”
“…And Thorgrim, and we are new in town. We were wondering if there were any quests that needed doing or problems that need fixing?”
“Well, there’s the problems with the orcs, although they’re keeping themselves far away from our little town. There’s rumors of a conspiracy between them and the Holberkians, and there is some trade going on between them, but I think it’s a mistake to construe a conspiracy from that. Especially as neither the orcs nor the Holberkians have the brains for it.”
Isn’t that what the dwarves said before the orcs came down and ruined their shit? Wait, what’s a Holberkian?
Orc/elf crossbreeds. They’re not too uncommon in DSA, although they tend to be discriminated against, especially in places like this, where they have no reason to trust orcs. As I recall, the slum we almost entered when Suzie’s warrior got tetanus is where most of them live.
So wait, if the horks and the orcs aren’t smart enough to run a conspiracy, what about someone else?
Are you asking this in character?
“Well, yes, of course it’s possible someone else is directing it. But let’s not forget that the orcs have brought war to the entire Svellt valley. Outside the Orc Lands Holberkians are found only here in Riva. Why should anyone go to the trouble to use them for his purposes, if it’s quite obvious from events everywhere else that they aren’t needed?”
The Svellt valley. It’s a lot bigger than just Riva. And he’s right about them being limited outside their own lands…I ask him if there have been an unusual amount of travelers among the Holberkians recently.
“Are there any other difficulties plaguing the town?”
“Well, the area around the old watchtower is still said to be haunted, despite the entrance having been bricked up years ago. There’s a magician living in his tower outside of town. That area is said to be haunted as well, so the citizens tend to avoid it. Of course, you can’t get there now without a boat, thanks to the road getting flooded. There are dwarves operating a mine southeast of town, although I have heard that their situation has grown dire of late.”
Yeah, but we fixed all that.
You never told anyone about it.
Oh yeah! “Och, laddie, ya dinnae need ta worry aboot tha place anymore!”
“He said we cleared out the mine of its orcish inhabitants, slew the evil orc leader, and tore the dark book he sought into tiny pieces.”
“Oh. Well, that’s good news, then. Oh yes, there’s also reports from two years ago when a druid appeared in town, but he disappeared just as abruptly and mysteriously. Since then, there’s always someone around who claims to have seen him. I heard that someone hired a group of adventurers to clear out the graveyard and they stumbled across his plot. Was that you?”
“I nae call tha job a hirin’, seein’ as we dinnae got paid!”
“Yah, that were us, you betcha!”
What? Everyone else was doing it.
“Whatever. So there’s also all sorts of beasties down in the sewers, and not just the guild scum, but some mighty peculiar creatures have been reported down there, too.”
“Oh right, oops. ‘I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a group of professional lawbreakers.’ Sorry, but I think you’ve learned enough from me.”
Hold on a second, who have we been talking to?
“Oh yes, I almost forgot. Bosper Jarnug, City and County Judge at Riva, at your service. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
So this wasn’t City Hall?
Nope, just the courthouse. The city hall is actually in the region just south.
We should try there, then.
I thought the Bosper dude dropped plenty of quest hooks.
If we wanted to wander randomly some more, yes. You said that we could start the main quest today, right?
That means there’s someone around here who can tell us exactly where we need to go next, so let’s keep looking.
The doorman points down a wide hallway on the right, when he notices your uncertain looks. “Information desk, third door on the left,” he says in a friendly voice.
Sounds like she’s got a nice rack.
That’s…beside the point. The woman identifies herself as Dhana Ghune, in charge of the Riva Town Information Office. She asks you what you would like to know.
“Good Madam, are there any important quests or services we could render for the city of Riva?”
She’s…not really in charge of that. She can tell you all the important places in town, at least.
And I don’t suppose we can see the mayor?
*Sigh* Fine, let’s hear some backstory.
Well, important buildings include the six temples, built to Firun (The one outside the graveyard), Efferd (god of water, he’s by the docks), Phex (magic hobo god), Tsa (free resurrections), Travia (you started there), and Rahja.
I remember Rahja.
I’m sure you do. There’s also the castle on an outcropping by the harbor. Public buildings include City Hall, the court building, the public baths, and the schoolhouse.
Public baths? Does that mean what I think it means?
Sadly, yes. You can get a good washing and massage too, at least. Local sights include the Nivilaukaju, a stone monument. Legend tells of how Liska, the Celestial Wolf’s daughter, enticed a young huntsman at that location, who was stabbed to death by his bride, the Nivese girl Nivilaukaju, while making love to Liska. Nivilaukaju was then hit by a bolt from Liska’s eyes that turned her into solid rock. To this very day, the Nivese gather at the monument to sacrifice a Karen every new moon, though by now it’s a purely symbolic ceremony.
What? All those proper nouns threw me for a loop.
A woman caught her husband sleeping with a goddess, so she killed him, and then the goddess turned her into a statue.
Does she know what’s up with that giant barrel?
I was just getting to that, actually. It’s known as the Rupert Knorre Fountain. Rupert Knorre was a Riva brewer providing beer for the council meetings. But his porter was flat and thin, and for this affront the mayor ordered Knorre to finance a public fountain, being, as he was, such an expert on serving water. Thus, he shaped it like a beer barrel.
So it’s only full of water? Well that sucks. I liked that story better than the other one, though. She have any other good ones?
She can tell you about the city’s history, although it’s so boring even I can’t read it straight. Basically, Riva started off as a Thorwalian settlement, grew thanks to a good location for trade, joined the Svellt League for trade connections, and although Riva’s a big port, it normally doesn’t have an army, although they’ve got three companies right now thanks to the orc attacks.
Is that really all she has to say?
Damn it. So where the hell is the main quest?!
I told you to check the taverns.
That’s stupid! What about the hork slums? Is there anything to find there?
Um, well, you see a group of children shouting “Scum! Scum!” at a Holberkian, who is just trying to walk away. Nothing much else going on up here.
Tavern. It’s totally there.
Fine, have it your way.
You visit the dock tavern “The Harbor Maid,” which is, in fact, slang for what you think it is, Hal.
I didn’t say anything.
We go up and talk to him.
Seeing you approach his table, the man looks up in obvious surprise.
“Mind if we join you?”
“I never mind such a beautiful girl! …And I guess I can abide the rest of you as well.”
Nice, Bob, nice.
Did you want me to flatter Paul’s character? Because that ain’t happening. The guy tells you his name is Tarik, by the way.
“Do you know your way around town?”
“Why, certainly! After all, I’ve been living here for years.”
“Maybe you can tell us a bit about the place, then?”
“Well, Riva is the only harbor town of the Svellt League, as far as that still exists. After all, the orcs have nearly killed trade here. Many of the northern merchants seem just a step away from bankruptcy, but if you take a closer look, you see they’re actually raking it in.”
“So they’re part of the conspiracy?”
“Not really, war is just a good time to gouge the market. Otherwise, things are a bit tense at the moment. There’s a growing antipathy towards the Holberkians, even though they give no cause for it. And the guards have been stubbornly, but unsuccessfully, searching for the guild’s trademaster for months.”
Wait, the what? Didn’t Judge Whatsisname mention him?
“Now, now, some information is worth more than just pleasant conversation. I can tell you what I know about the orcs, but I think we should wait on talking about him.”
“Very well. So do you think the orcs are going to attack Riva?”
“There’s no doubt the blackpelts will be at the gates of Riva someday if they aren’t stopped! But it looks like they’re planning to advance further inland first.”
That doesn’t make sense. Why would the orcs avoid a trading port?
“You’d think they would come for us first, right? And yet, the scum are moving south. Who knows what goes on inside an orc’s head. At the moment, at least, it doesn’t look as if they’re interested in Riva.”
…Hence the conspiracy theories. Okay, that makes sense now.
And since the orcs aren’t attacking, people blame the Holberkians for conspiring.
“Oh, a lot of citizens would believe the Holberkians eat small children if only some loudmouth says it loud enough! It’s all just mindless blather, the Holberkians are much too…gentle for that! The Holberkians have been living in Riva for decades now, but nobody has ever tried to get to know or understand them. It isn’t even known how many of them there are. Ignorance is the best breeding ground for envy and hatred there is.”
We get it, dude, the horks are some kind of minority stand-in.
Tarik is kind of angry about the whole situation, I’m just trying to roleplay that. Anyway, he also tells you that it’s been a fine conversation, but he has to go now. And if you want to see him again, you can visit him just next door. Oh, and don’t forget to bring some change.
Shit, you’re not kidding. So what time is it now?
A couple hours from sunset.
So couldn’t we just go in right now and hear about the guild?
Pretty much, yeah.
So why do we have to talk about all this? Let’s just say we go to his house and continue the conversation there.
“So, I assume you have more questions to ask me? Go on then, you’re free to ask me anything…ahem…mind you, the answers aren’t free, and they will require a small payment. Let’s say one silver for starters—all right?”
I’m not sure about paying him for every single answer…
Bitch, we’ve got silver to swim in if we wanted. Hell, I’ll pay out of my share if no one else wants to.
Kara will also pay. So can we ask about the trademaster now?
“Lothur Ui Chearghail moved here from Albernia some years ago, rented a warehouse in town, and built a far-reaching trading net within a remarkably short time. He supplied local merchants, as well as those of other League cities. In the end, he had several warehouses and offices in a number of towns. Then rumors started to fly that Ui Chearghail had only been able to get rich this quickly by robbery and piracy.”
I’d have stolen a better name if I was him.
Oh, I only wish he had. “Suddenly, he was charged with high treason and immediately sentenced, even though he had been a respected businessman.”
“What got him locked up so fast?”
“The charges were that he conspired with pirates. However, the evidence presented was a joke, and the so-called witnesses more than dubious, but the judge seemed determined to make an example of him! Despite a strong defense, he was sentenced to die, but he managed to escape. The trademaster had a lot of friends in this town, and most of them had reason to fear being charged themselves next. So most of them went underground with him, and shortly afterwards, the guild started to make news.”
“So the other businessmen bribed the judge?”
“Don’t know for sure. And that answer won’t cost you anything, don’t worry.”
“Alright, so what about the guild?”
“All the beggars, thieves, and other criminals of town have joined together in it. Since the trademaster became the gang’s uncrowned head, the guild has become more popular than the city guards. Since then, most of the guild’s activities are aimed at the authorities, and the common citizen isn’t bothered. It’s said that Lothur takes from the rich and gives to the poor—a sure way to become a popular hero.”
Still, gangs like that don’t last long when there’s a dedicated police force to take them down. Either they’ve got a great hiding spot or they’re bribing the guards.
“Both, actually; guild members escape into the sewers when pursued. Ever since a whole guard unit disappeared down there, the other soldiers daren’t enter. A lot of people even say the guild has its headquarters down there. I find that hard to believe, though. As for the bribery, the trademaster somehow managed to squirrel away his fortune before it could have been confiscated. It’s assumed he still has friends in town who shelter and protect him from the guards. He’s using his fortune to finance the guild now.”
That would explain why he can afford to go easy on the protection rackets. Sounds like he basically bought out the town’s poor and turned them into his private army. All that money and only grudges to spend it on…
“You could probably call it that, yes.”
Sounds like the sewers are next.
If you want, sure.
That means “yes.”
Before we go, can we ask the information guy about himself?
“Sure, sure! And keep your silver, this answer is free! For years, Tarik was known as a thief and con-man, though nobody ever managed to prove it. As is usual in cases like this, he got careless, and one day he was caught red-handed, so to speak. Thus, he had no choice but pay a visit to the castle dungeons. Then the judge appeared and offered to have him released. In return, Tarik would have to provide him with current information at regular intervals. Also, he would have to keep his nose clean from then on. So, Tarik turned his misfortune into an opportunity, and started to keep his eyes and ears open like the judge had told him to. He gathered all the information he could get. And since he was barred from pursuing his former ‘career,’ he began to turn a profit with the knowledge he’d accumulated. Of course, people didn’t much like the thought that certain things could become common knowledge all of a sudden. Usually, the mere possibility of their secrets being uncovered gave them the scare of their life. Which explains why Tarik is less than universally loved.”
We keep hearing a lot about this judge guy.
“You keep asking about criminals. Wouldn’t the judge be more important than the mayor to them?”
Yeah, but we actually met him, and we didn’t meet the mayor. Seems funny, that’s all.
Can we head to the sewers now?
What? I thought dwarves were supposed to be all over underground places.
Yeah, but everyone knows the sewer levels suck. Hey William? WILLIAM!
Zzzzzzzzzzz *snort* Huh?
The exposition’s over. You can start paying attention now.